Transportation Equity and Environmental Justice

Connecticut Department of Transportation

 

An accessible and reliable transportation system is essential in determining where we live, work, and go to school. It plays a fundamental role in shaping human interaction, mobility, and sustainability. Transportation provides access to opportunities and serves as a key component in addressing poverty, unemployment, and equity while ensuring access to education, healthcare, and other public services.

 

Historically many individuals and communities, including people of color, people with low incomes, and people with limited English proficiency (LEP), have not benefited equitably from transportation investments and programs. In some cases, transportation projects and investments have had adverse effects on the quality of life in these communities, such as increasing pollution or physically bisecting them. The benefits and costs of transportation investments have often been distributed inequitably, with communities that are historically underserved bearing a higher share of the burdens of the transportation system and lower share of the benefits. For this reason, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is committed to ensuring environmental justice is addressed throughout the planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of projects across all travel modes. It does so by identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse effects of the agency's programs, policies, and activities on people of color and people who have low incomes to achieve an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. This includes the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process through public involvement, as described below.

 

CTDOT understands that equity and environmental justice are essential to building a healthy and viable transportation network, and is fully committed to ensuring that its programs, policies, activities, projects, and public engagement processes promote and support equity and inclusion.

 

 

How is The Department Committed to Transportation Equity and Environmental Justice?

 

Currently the Connecticut Department of Transportation is engaged in various projects, programs, and initiatives aimed at advancing transportation equity throughout Connecticut.

 

Staff Education:

Key staff at CTDOT are attending a Transit Equity and a Social Equity Learning Lab which are designed to equip transportation professionals with the tools needed to engage the public by gathering representative data in order to understand the needs of communities currently underserved by the transportation system. In addition, these labs will help the Department explore new ways of implementing equity metrics to ensure the active transportation network is accessible to everyone.

 

Public Involvement:

CTDOT is committed to conducting business in a transparent, accountable way. Currently CTDOT employs techniques that encourage and promote active and inclusive public participation; create opportunities for all residents, including underrepresented groups to participate in transportation planning activities in a meaningful way; and document our actions and the public comments received in a way that assures accountability. These procedures and best practices are described in the Department’s Public Involvement Procedures (PIP) guidance document. The PIP provides guidance, techniques, and examples for interacting, informing, and involving the public throughout the transportation planning process. This includes  outreach  during the Planning phase, as prescribed in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA). Outreach is also conducted during the various design phases of transportation projects. Furthermore, the PIP plays an essential role in the development of public input procedures in planning documents such as the Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plan and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Following this guidance not only ensures the involvement of the public, other state, federal and local agencies, and stakeholders, but also ensures that the legal requirements for public involvement are met, and that stakeholder and public expectations are managed appropriately. This collaboration allows for improved transportation decision-making in the State of Connecticut.

 

Environmental Justice:

In addition to The National Environmental Policy Act, the Department actively ensures that it follows the 1973 Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA). A CEPA assessment is required for each state agency action or sequence of actions undertaken by a state department, institution or agency that could have a major impact on the state's environmental, social, and/or economic resources. Under CEPA, the Department utilizes the appropriate Environmental Classification Document (ECD) to determine if a proposed project requires further evaluation or public scoping under CEPA, and if so, to determine the appropriate level of analysis proportionate to the scale of the proposed action’s potential impacts. The core purpose of CEPA is to provide a public process for state agencies to identify and assess the extent to which their proposed actions may potentially affect the environment, and to evaluate alternatives to avoid or minimize such impacts. A key component of the assessment process is the public’s opportunity to review the proposed state action and provide feedback. All Scoping Notices are published in the Environmental Monitor.

 

Community Connectivity Grants:

The Department recently launched a 3rd round of Community Connectivity Grants centered on Equity. The grant program was developed to provide funding for targeted infrastructure improvements that facilitate social and economic opportunities for underserved communities by providing equitable levels of access to safe and affordable transportation.

 

Public Transit:

Recently, the Department conducted virtual public hearings on rail service and fare changes that were previously made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the proposed elimination of the Mail & Ride fare media. These covered proposed service changes to CTtransit bus service and minor fare changes on two CTtransit Express bus routes. At these hearings, CTDOT provided information and accepted public comments on the service and fare proposals and the Service and Fare Equity (SAFE) analysis. The SAFE analysis evaluates the proposed changes to determine if they will cause a disparate impact to minority persons or a disproportionate burden to people with low incomes, as defined by the FTA Title VI circular.

 

Complete Streets:

Through its Complete Streets Policy, CTDOT considers the needs of all users of all abilities and ages in the planning, programming, design, construction, retrofit and maintenance of all roads and streets. The Department is committed to providing a safe, efficient transportation network which enhances quality of life and economic vitality. Complete Streets enhances safe access for all users by providing a comprehensive, integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options.

 

Accessibility:

In 2019 the Department updated its ADA Transition Plan which establishes a baseline and guidance for accessibility to Connecticut's transportation system with the goal of making transportation accessible to all users including those with disabilities. CTDOT understands the importance of well-designed accessible transportation facilities and is moving forward to ensure that best practices are being adopted in its designs.

 

Transit Oriented Development:

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) as defined by Section 13b-79o of the Connecticut General Statutes, refers to:

 

the development of residential, commercial, and employment centers within one-half mile of walking distance of public transportation facilities, including rail and bus rapid transit and services, that meet transit supportive standards for land uses, built environment densities, and walkable environments, in order to facilitate and encourage the use of those services”.

 

Whether it is new construction, redevelopment, or small-scale infill development, a fundamental characteristic of TOD is that its physical form responds to - and is interrelated to - transit. The Connecticut Department of Transportation's (CTDOT) role in supporting TOD is to ensure that Connecticut's public transportation network and facilities support the State, regional, and municipal goals of providing mobility choice, encouraging economic development, and creating more livable, sustainable communities.

 

For more information on transportation equity and environmental justice, please visit the resources below.

 

Transportation Equity & Environmental Justice

Resources

CTDOT Equity Programs & Initiatives

Vision Zero Interagency Policy

Road Safety Audits

Complete Streets

Community Connectivity Grant Program

Proposed Transit Fare Changes

2021 CTDOT Service & Fare Equity Analysis

Pedestrian Safety Strategy

Transit-Oriented Development

Public Transportation Assistance for Riders Who are Blind or Have Low Vision (Aira)

CTDOT Environmental Justice Tools

Minority, Low Income, and Limited English Proficiency Maps

Public Involvement Procedures

CTDOT ADA WebMap

CTDOT ADA Dashboard

CT Environmental Justice Communities

CT Environmental Policy Act (CEPA)

CEPA Manual for CT State Agencies

Environmental Review Checklist

Environmental Monitor

CEPA Project Inventory

Data Sources & Tools

Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (Historically Disadvantaged Communities)

Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts shapefile (v2.0, posted 5/10/22)

EJscreen

National Equity Atlas

US Census/American Community Survey Data

Poverty Guidelines

Census Microdata

Social Mobility Data

General Transit Feed Specification

Census Transportation Planning Products Program

Employer Household Dynamics

USDA Food Access Research Atlas

School Lunch Statistics

HUD Location Affordability Index

EPA Smart Location Database/Mapping

Bureau of Transportation Statistics

EPA EnviroAtlas

Federal Initiatives, Guidance, Regulations, Executive Orders

Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (E.O. 14008)

Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (E.O. 13985)

Title VI of The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898

Limited English Proficiency Executive Order 13166

USDOT Environmental Justice Order 5610.2(a)

E.J. Guidance Under NEPA

FTA Environmental Justice Circular

Short Overview of E.J. and Transportation

E.J. Emerging Trends & Best Practices Guidebook

FHWA E.J. Guide

FHWA E.J. Review Toolkit

Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference Guide for Transportation

Community Guide to Environmental Justice and NEPA Methods

 

Justice40 Guidance and Resources

Justice40 Initiative | USDOT

Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative (M-21-28)

Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool for Justice40 Projects (CEJST) *Beta*

White House Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments and Other Partners

List of Upcoming USDOT NOFOs

USDOT Funding and Financing Opportunities

FHWA Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Technical Assistance/Local Support

R.O.U.T.E.S. Grant Application Toolkit

Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)

Justice40 | Department of Energy

 

Reports, Primers, PI & Analysis Strategies

National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Report 710)

Working With Community-based Organizations on Transportation Planning

Practitioners Peer Exchange E.J. Roadmap

Communication With Vulnerable Populations: A Transportation & Emergency Management Toolkit

Shared Mobility & Transportation Equity

Transportation and Health Tool

American Public Health Association Transportation & Public Health Fact Sheets

Hidden Health Costs of Transportation

At The Intersection of Public Health & Transportation Report

Pursuing Equity in Pedestrian & Bicycle Planning

At The Intersection of Active Transportation & Equity

Barriers to Bicycle Access & Use in Black and Hispanic Communities

Developing & Advancing Effective Public Involvement and E.J. Strategies for Rural and Small Communities

E.J. Analysis in Transportation Planning & Programming: State of The Practice

FHWA Addressing Changing Demographics in E.J. Analysis, State of Practice

 

Other Links

Office of Contract Compliance

CTDOT Public Meeting Calendar

 

Contact

For Questions, Please Contact us at:Equity and EJ Webpage